Environmental Protection

N.Y. Firm, Supervisors Found Guilty of Falsifying Asbestos Cleanup Reports

A federal jury in Utica, N.Y., has found Certified Environmental Services, Inc. (CES), two of its managers, Nicole Copeland and Elisa Dunn and one of its employees, Sandy Allen, guilty of conspiring to aid and abet Clean Air Act (CAA) violations, commit mail fraud, and defraud the United States, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Justice Department said this week.

The defendants also were convicted of substantive CAA violations and mail fraud counts. Defendants CES and Elisa Dunn were convicted of making false statements to federal law enforcement.

As alleged in the indictment, CES, its employees, and a supervisor from a former asbestos abatement company, Paragon Environmental Construction, conspired over the course of nearly a decade to falsify lab results used to prove that asbestos removal was done properly. In numerous instances, asbestos removal companies represented that homes, schools, and other buildings were free of asbestos contamination when asbestos debris remained behind. Owners of local homes and buildings were unaware that asbestos had been left behind from sloppy abatement work because CES falsified air quality reports. Due to the false lab reports, people that lived or worked in the buildings were potentially exposed to asbestos, putting them at risk for developing cancer. EPA investigators have notified affected building owners of the asbestos problem so proper cleanup can be conducted.

The conspiracy and substantive CAA and false statements counts of the indictment each carry a maximum possible term of incarceration of five years and a fine of $250,000. The mail fraud counts each carry a maximum possible term of incarceration of 20 years and similar fines.

Asbestos has been determined to cause lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma, a fatal disease. EPA has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.

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